Calls For More Clarity Over Same Sex Relationship Primary School Lessons

17 July 2019, 16:22

Fernwood Primary School Nottingham

Capital's been told the government should provide more clarity over the teaching of same sex relationships lessons at primary schools, after it emerged protests are planned outside a school in Nottingham.

Activists have called for parents against the inclusive lessons to protest outside Fernwood Primary School, in Wollaton, during the school run.

They say they are "not homophobic" but say parents need to be heard on the issue of relationship and sex education.

Parents at the school have told Capital they are concerned after months of protests on the same issue outside schools in Birmingham.

It has led to Nottingham's LGBT community to call for more clarity for parents who may be concerned about the lessons. 

Alice Bowerman, chair of the Notts LGBT Network, has told Capital there has been misinformation spread about what the lessons entail. She said: "The lessons at that age literally use story books and difference and that perhaps some people have two mums or two dads. 

"If we'd had this in schools 20 years ago, then there wouldn't be these protests now, as people may be better informed around the issues of sexuality, gender identity and how there are different family types.

"This can be damaging for LGBT young people who may be questioning their sexuality, they're not sure who to turn to. If they see adults protesting, and those demonstrators could even be their parents. It will make it so hard for them to come out. 

"All it's about is to be told that you are normal. To be told in school that because you have two mums or two dads that's fine and that's how some families are made up is all it's about. I don't think they'd want anything more."

She says the Department for Education should step in to calm tensions.

Nottingham City Council leader Cllr David Mellen has told Capital "it is important to have a positive conversation with children adn young people about healthy, respectful and safe relationships."

He added: "Good Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) can equip young people with facts they can trust, helping to keep them safe and preventing them from turning to playground gossip or dubious information online. 

"It is important that children and young people are given the opportunity to explore a range of family and relationship types in a way that is supportive, inclusive and affirms children's different experiences of family life. 

"In Nottingham, we do not wish to see the type of protest that took place in Birmingham; such angry scenes have a negative impact on young children and pose a potential safeguarding risk to pupils who have to walk past protesters in order to get into their school in the morning. 

"In modern Britain, families come in many different shapes and sizes, including same-sex parents, single parents, fostering and adoptive parents.

"Good RSE teaching, and an inclusive school environment, should meet the needs of all pupils regardless of their gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, race and faith."

The school's headteacher, Mandy Austin, has also had her say.

In a statement to Capital she said she's "proud" of how people have reacted. 

Wollaton West Cllr Steve Battlemuch has posted on Twitter that "no one" has raised the issue of these lessons to him and to take up issues with the school and not plan protests. 

Neighbourhood Inspector Gordon Fenwick, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: "The police's role is to strike a balance between the lawful right to protest and minimising disruption as much as possible.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and officers will be present to ensure there is a limit to any disruption caused and that the children get to school as normal."

Capital has contacted those planning to protest but have yet to have a response.